Gwladys Nocera will take a two stroke lead into the final round of the Lalla Meryem Cup after firing a six-under-par 65 in warm and sunny conditions at Golf de l’Ocean in Adadir on Saturday.
The 38-year-old Frenchwoman ended two clear of French compatriot Sophie Giquel-Bettan, with halfway leader Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand two strokes further back.
South Australian Stephanie Na is still the leading Australian, Na carded an even par round of 71 to remain at two-under-par and tied for 23rd position.
Nocera made a relatively slow start with two birdies and one bogey on the front nine, but she picked up the pace with five birdies on the back nine at holes 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 to reach 11-under-par after three rounds.
“Today was not so good on the front nine. I struggled a little bit but I don’t know, I played two rounds with bad putting and managed to shoot a good score so I just thought, ‘keep going, they will drop,’ and I made a few more on the back nine,” Nocera said.
Giquel-Bettan, the Portugal Open champion in 2007, is in the hunt for her first LET title in seven years after a third-round 67 which included seven birdies and three bogeys.
The defending champion Jutanugarn, who took eight months out last year through injury, struggled with her irons and slipped down into third place after a one-over-par 72, but is still in contention just four strokes from the lead.
She said: “Today I played not very good. My driver was okay but my irons were so bad and I had some long putts and my putting didn’t help.”
It’s a tightly jammed leader board with four players only five shots from the lead on six-under-par. They are Thailand’s Titiya Plucksataporn, English duo Holly Clyburn and Charley Hull and French amateur Mathilda Cappeliez, who is aged 15 and two weeks older than Lydia Ko when she won the 2013 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open to become the youngest ever winner on the LET.
NSW’s Adriana Brent is tied for 41st position at one-over-par, while NZ’s Cathryn Bristow is at four-over par and shares 61st place. Victorian Alison Whitaker is only other Australian in the field, she posted a disappointing third round to fall back to nine-over-par total and is 67th.